What is an Idiom?

What is an Idiom? To truly master English or any language for that matter, you’ll want to understand the meaning of every expression. Use the following English idioms list to help you navigate and find the expression you want to learn or use.

Idioms are a group of words established and characterized by how they are used as a whole rather than understanding each word by their own definition. They can be used to express figurative or sometimes literal meanings.

They are normally characterized as being a formulaic language and should not be taken literally. Rather, they should be better understood by their nuance, cultural reference or figurative meaning.

The best way to learn and understand idioms is to try and integrate them into your daily speech. Check out this idioms list provided on this page and see the following examples. You may recognize some of them.

How to use the English Idioms List effectively

To make the most out of your experience on how to use the list of the English idioms effectively, you’ll want to search up the idiom you’re looking.

Press CTRL + F on your keyboard and type down the idiom that you’re looking for.

If you’re a teacher, you may want to create your own list of idioms to practice with your students. If you’re a student, you’ll want to take note of all the idioms you want to learn how to use and ask your teacher how to use them appropriately.

Very Common English Idioms used in Everyday Speech

Here is an English idioms list that is commonly used throughout the United States and other English speaking countries. You’ll hear them being used in both daily conversations and also your favorite TV show or movie.

These expressions are great for practicing, you’ll want to try and use them appropriately in your sentences.

If you’re a teacher, you may want to explain to your students how to use these idioms and the appropriate time to use them.

Idiom Examples Definition
A cinch Very easy.
A grey area Something that is unclear.
A know-it-all A person who constantly presents their opinion as if they know everything.
A low blow An unfair or unsportsmanlike comment.
A quick study A performer, actor or musician who can learn something extremely fast.
A rip-off Too expensive.
A slap on the wrist A very mild punishment.
Add fuel to the fire Adding more to the existing problem.
All ears You have my full attention.
As easy as ABC Something that is very easy.
Back to square one Having to start all over.
Be broke To have no money.
Be fed up with To be annoyed or upset at a situation or treatment.
Be on the go Busy and active all the time.
Be over No longer be affected by.
Beat (someone’s) brains out To hit or batter someone severely.
Beat around the bush Avoiding the main issue, not speaking directly.
Beats me I have no idea.
Beautiful inside and out To be both beautiful in appearance and in character.
Bed of roses An easy and comfortable situation.
Before long It will happen soon.
Better late than never Better arrive late than not come at all.
Bite the bullet To get over something with that’s inevitable
Bite the dust To be killed.
Blabbermouth A person who talks excessively.
Blessing in disguise A good thing that originally seemed bad.
Blow (one’s) tope Lose one’s temper
Blue in the face Extremely angry, frustrated, annoyed, upset, or embraced.
Break (someone’s) heart Overwhelm with sadness.
Break a leg Good luck.
Bug (someone) To annoy someone.
Bullheaded Determined in an unthinking way.
Call it a day Time to quit.
Can’t make heads or tails of something Unable to understand someone or something.
Catch (one’s) eye To catch one’s attention.
Catch some Zs To get some sleep.
Chew (someone) out To verbally scold someone.
Chicken A scared person.
Cool as a cucumber To be very calm while under stress.
Cool it! Behave in a less excitable manner.
Couch potato A person who is very lazy and watches TV.
Crack (someone) up To make someone laugh.
Crack a book Open a book and study.
Cram To study or work intensively.
Crash course A quick explanation of something.
Cross your fingers Wish for good luck.
Cut (somebody) some slack Don’t be so critical.
Cut it out! Stop it!
Cutting corners Doing something poorly to save time or money.
Cutting edge Most advanced or latest stage of development.
Dime a dozen Something uncommon or rare.
Ditch class Skip class
Do a bang-up job To do a job well and successfully.
Down in the dumps Discouraged or depressed.
Down to the wire At the last minute.
Drop (someone) a line Send someone a note or letter in a casual manner.
Eager beaver A keen and enthusiastic person who works hard.
Easy does it Slow down.
Elbow grease Do hard physical work.
Every other (something) The second in a series. Alternatively.
Far-fetched Very unlikely or unconvincing.
Feel blue To feel sad or unhappy.
Feel puny To feel weak and ill. Getting a cold.
Fell on deaf ears People wouldn’t listen to something
Fender-bender Minor collision between vehicles.
Fill in the blanks Provide more information.
For ages For a long time.
Get (something) out of your system Do something you’ve been wanting to do then move on.
Get a kick out of it Really enjoy something.
Get cold feet Be nervous.
Get on (one’s) nerves To make someone feel annoyed or irritated.
Get out of hand Get out of control.
Get over it To move beyond on. Go beyond something bothering you.
Get up and go Very energetic and enthusiastic.
Get your act together Work better or leave.
Give (someone) a hand To help someone.
Give (someone) the benefit of the doubt Trust what someone says.
Give it a shot To try to do something.
Go back to the drawing board Start over.
Go the extra mile Going above and beyond what is required.
Go with the flow Relax and accept the situation rather than trying to control.
Grab a bite To go eat.
Graveyard shift Working from 12:00 am to 8:00 am.
Great minds think alike Intelligent people think in a similar way.
Green room A waiting room in TV shows.
Gut feeling A personal intuition when you feel something isn’t right.
Hang in there Don’t give up
Hassle Irritating and inconvenient.
Have (one’s) hands full To be very busy.
Have a blast Have fun.
Have a change of heart Change your mind.
Have mixed feelings Unsure of how you feel.
Have something down pat To learn something or master it perfectly.
Having second thoughts Having doubts.
He’s/She’s the big fish He/ She is the boss.
Head honcho The big boss or leader.
Head over heels Very excited and joyful when in love.
High five Slapping palms above each other’s heads as celebration.
Hit the road Set out on a journey.
Hit the sack/sheet/hay Go to bed.
I get it I understand.
I’ve got your number You can’t fool me; I know what you’re up to.
Icing on the cake Something additional that turns good into great.
In hot water Be in trouble.
In over (one’s) head When one is too deeply involved with something or someone.
In stock To be available for sale.
In the black A company is profitable.
In the red The company is deficient of money and owes money to the bank.
In the same boat Be in the same situation.
It’s in the bag It’s for certain.
It’s not rocket science It’s not complicated
Jump all over someone To scold or criticize someone.
Jump the gun Act before a proper time.
Jump to conclusions Make a hasty judgement before considering all the facts.
Junk mail Unwanted advertisement or promotional material received by mail.
Keep an eye out for Look for something with attention.
Keep in touch To continue communicating or contact regularly.
Klutz A clumsy person.
Last but not least Introducing the last person, but not less important than anyone else.
Last straw My patience has run out.
Leave well enough alone To allow something to stay as it may make the situation worse.
Let (someone) off the hook To not hold someone responsible for something.
Let’s even the odds An opportunity to make chances of success and failure equal for both sides.
Let-down To be a disappointment.
Level playing field A fair competition where no side has an advantage
Live from hand to mouth To have enough money to live on.
Lose track of Failing to be aware or informed about something.
Lousy Very poor or bad.
Macho Very aggressively proud of masculinity.
Make a long story short Tell something short and brief.
Miss the boat It’s too late.
Mumbo Jumbo To call something nonsense
No hard feelings No resentment or anger.
No pain, no gain You have to work for what you want.
Not on your life! Refusing to comply with a request.
Now and then Sometimes. From time to time.
On the ball Doing a great job.
On the dot Exactly on time.
Once in a while Something happens infrequently.
Out of the blue With no warning.
Pass with flying colors To succeed at something easily.
Pay the piper Bear the consequence of an action or activity.
Pipe down To shut-up or be quiet.
Plastic To be fake.
Play it by ear To improvise.
Pooped To be tired.
Pull (someone’s) leg To joke with someone.
Pull an all-nighter To work or study all night.
Pull the plug To stop something. Bringing something to an end.
Pull yourself together Calm down.
Pushing up daisies To be dead.
R and R Rest and relaxation.
Read between the lines Find the hidden meaning.
Right on time You arrived punctually.
Rub (someone) the wrong way To irritate or repel someone.
Run-down To gradually deteriorate in quality. To lose power or stop functioning.
Second to none The absolute best.
Sleep on it Delay the decision making and take some more time to consider.
Slipped my mind I forgot.
So far so good Up to this point, things are going well.
Someone’s made his/ her bed; now let them lie in it. The person created an unfavorable circumstance for themselves.
Sooner or later It will happen eventually in the future.
Speak of the devil The person or thing we were talking about showed up.
State of the art Most recent stage of development of a product.
Steal (someone’s) thunder To steal someone’s chance of impressing or getting attention.
Step on it! Drive (go) faster!
Take it easy! Proceed calmly or in a relaxed manner.
The best of both worlds An ideal situation.
The bottom line The underlying or ultimate outcome.
There, there. An expression used to comfort someone. Don’t cry.
Tight-fisted Not willing to spend or give much money.
Time flies when you’re having fun When you’re enjoying yourself, time seems to move quickly.
To be in and out Quickly entering and leaving.
To get bent out of shape To get upset.
To know (something) backward and forward To know something very well.
To know something inside out To know something thoroughly.
To matters worse Make a problem worse.
Two-faced Sincere and deceitful.
Under the weather Feeling sick.
Until hell freezes over For an extremely long time.
Was my face red? An exclamation of embarrassment.
We behind the ears Lacking experience or immature.
We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it Let’s not worry about a possible future problem.
Wear out (one’s) welcome No longer welcome to stay.
White lie A harmless or trivial lie.
Wishy-washy Lacking strength or boldness in character.
With bells on Enthusiastically.
Without a doubt For certain.
Wouldn’t be caught dead To dislike something very much.
Wrap your head around (something) To understand something complicated
You can say that again That’s true and I agree.
You don’t say! Used to express amazement or disbelief.
You’ve got to be kidding me! Used to show that you are surprised on how ridiculous the situation is.
Your guess is as good as mine I also have no idea.
Zilch Nothing.
Zip your lip Don’t say anything

Common English Idioms and Expressions

While some of the English expressions on this list of idioms are not as commonly used as the ones above, they’re still familiar to any native English speaker.

You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with these idioms and their meaning. It’ll help give you a better command of the English language.

Idiom Examples Definition
A bee in her bonnet She is upset.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush What you have is worth more than what you might have later.
A bitter pill Something unpleasant but must be accepted.
A bull in a china shop Someone who is very clumsy.
A chip on your shoulder Being upset for something that happened in the past.
A little birdie told me Someone told me a secret.
A penny for your thoughts Tell me what you’re thinking.
A penny saved is a penny earned Money you save today is money you can spend later.
A perfect storm The worst possible situation.
A picture is worth a thousand words Better to show than tell.
A toss-up A result that is clear and can go either way.
Actions speak louder than words Believe what people do, not what they say.
Add insult to injury To make an already bad situation worse.
Against the clock Rushed and short on time.
All bark and no bite A person who threats verbally but doesn’t physically engage.
All Greek to me Meaningless and incomprehensible.
An axe to grind To have a dispute with someone.
An egghead An academic person. An intellectual
Antsy Agitated or impatient.
Apple of my eye Someone I cherish above everyone else.
As easy as pie Very easy.
As high as a kite Intoxicated with drugs or alcohol.
At the eleventh hour At the last possible moment.
Back seat driver Someone who criticizes from the sidelines, giving unwanted advice.
Bad-mouth To criticize someone.
Baker’s Dozen Thirteen.
Barking up the wrong tree To look for solutions in the wrong place.
Bend over backwards Do whatever it takes to help.
Between a rock and a hard place Stuck between two bad options.
Birdbrain An annoyingly stupid and shallow person.
Birds of feather flock together People who are similar in character or interest usually spend time. (negative meaning)
Bite off more than you can chew Take on a task you can’t seem to finish.
Bite your tongue To avoid talking.
Break the ice To make people feel comfortable.
Burn the midnight oil To study, work or read into the night.
Busy as a bee To be very active and working hard at something.
By the skin of your teeth Just barely.
Cat got your tongue? So you have nothing to say?
Chow down To eat.
Close but no cigar To be very near the goal but fall short.
Comparing apples to oranges Comparing two things that are completely different.
Costs an arm and a leg Very expensive.
Cry crocodile tears To pretend to be upset.
Cry wolf Intentionally raise a false alarm.
Cup of joe A cup of coffee.
Cut to the chase Just get to the point. Don’t talk about unnecessary things.
Different kettle of fish Something completely different.
Do something at the drop of a hat Do something without having planned beforehand.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you To treat people fairly. A biblical reference of The Golden Rule.
Doggy bag A bag to take home leftovers from a restaurant
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch Don’t rely on something good that hasn’t happened yet.
Don’t cry over spilt milk No point complaining about something that can’t be fixed.
Don’t give up your day job You’re not good at this.
Don’t judge a book by its cover Don’t prejudge something before understanding its value.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket Don’t concentrate or put all your resources into something risky.
Every cloud has a silver lining Good things come after bad things.
Feeding frenzy An aggressive group attack on someone.
Field day An enjoyable day or circumstance.
Finding your feet To be more comfortable in whatever you’re doing.
Finger lickin’ good A very delicious meal.
Fish out of water Being somewhere where you don’t belong.
Fixed in your ways Not willing or wanting to change old or bad habits.
Flea market A place where people gather to buy and sell inexpensive goods.
Flesh and blood Referring to family members
Flip the bird To raise your middle finger at someone.
French kiss A kiss where tongue is involved.
From rags to riches To start very poor but become very wealthy.
Get a taste of your own medicine Get treated the way you’ve been treating others. (Negative meaning)
Get off your high horse Stop thinking you’re better than others.
Get up on the wrong side of the bed Someone who is having a horrible day.
Give (someone) the cold shoulder Ignore someone.
Give him the slip To escape or get away from.
Glad to see the back of (someone) I’m happy or pleased that person is gone.
Go for broke To gamble everything.
Go on a wild goose chase To do something pointless.
Good Samaritan Someone who helps others in need but doesn’t ask for compensation.
Good things come to those who wait Be patient.
Goose is cooked Now you’re in trouble.
He has bigger fish to fry He has bigger problems to take care of.
He lost his head To become angry and overcome by emotions.
He’s a chip off the old block He is just like his father.
Hear it on the grapevine To hear a rumor about something.
Heat of the moment To do something without thinking while angry or excited.
Hit the books To study, usually for a test or exam.
Hit the nail on the head To get something exactly right.
Hold your horses Be patient.
Horse of a different color Something that is quite different, a separate issue.
Hot dog A person doing stunts that are dangerous.
Ignorance is bliss Better off not knowing.
In your face An aggressive and bold confrontation
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings This isn’t over yet.
It takes one to know one You are just as bad as I am.
It’s anyone’s call A competition where the outcome is uncertain or difficult to predict.
Jaywalk Crossing the street without using the crosswalk.
Keep (one’s) nose to the grindstone To work, study or practice hard.
Keep an eye on him/ her You should carefully watch him.
Keep something at bay Prevent someone or something from approaching or having an effect.
Keep your chin up Be happy or joyful in a difficult situation.
Kick the bucket To die.
Kill two birds with one stone Get two things done with a single action.
Knee jerk reaction A quick and automatic response.
Know the ropes To understand the details.
Lend me your ear To politely ask someone’s full attention.
Let bygones be bygones To forget about a disagreement or argument.
Let the cat out of the bag Reveal a secret.
Like a chicken with its head cut off To act in a disorganized and frenzied manner.
Live and learn I made a mistake.
Look before you leap Take a well calculated risk.
Loose cannon Someone who is unpredictable and can cause damage if left unattended.
Night owl Someone who stays up late.
Not a spark of decency Very rude. Has no manners.
Off on the wrong foot Getting a bad start on a relationship or task
Off the record To say something that is not intended to be publicly reported.
On the same page When multiple people agree on the same thing.
On thin ice Very risky which may have an unpleasant consequence.
Once in a blue moon Very rarely.
Out on the town To enjoy yourself by going out.
Over my dead body When you will not allow something to happen.
Over the top Very excessive.
Piece of cake It’s very easy.
Pig out To eat a lot.
Play devil’s advocate To argue a position for the sake of arguing.
Practice makes perfect By constantly practicing, you’ll become better.
Put something on ice Put the project or task on hold.
Put wool over other people’s eyes To deceive or trick other people.
Rain on (someone’s) parade To spoil someone’s fun or plan.
Raining cats and dogs It’s raining really hard.
Rule of thumb A rough estimate.
Run out of steam To be completely out of energy.
Saved by the bell Saved at the last possible moment.
Saving for a rainy day Saving money for later.
Scapegoat Someone else who takes the blame.
Scot-free To escape and not have to pay.
Shotgun Sitting in the front passenger’s seat of a car.
Sick as a dog To be very sick (flu or cold).
Sit on the fence Avoid making a decision or choice.
Sixth sense Allowing you to communicate with the death.
Skid row The rundown area of an intercity where the homeless and desperate live.
Slow and steady wins the race Reliability is more important than speed.
Smell a rat To detect someone in a group who is a traitor.
Smell something fishy Detecting something that isn’t right.
Son of a gun A bastard.
Speak your mind Say what you really feel.
Spill the beans Reveal the secret.
Spitting image The exact likeness or kind.
Starting from scratch To do it all over again. To start from the beginning.
Take a rain check To postpone a plan.
Take it with a grain of salt Don’t take it too seriously.
Teacher’s pet The teacher’s favorite student.
The ball is in your court It’s your decision.
The best thing since slice bread A really useful innovation or invention in a long time.
The devil is in the details Looks good at first but becomes more problematic or complex as you look closer.
The early bird gets the worm The people who arrive first is the one who is successful.
The elephant in the room The big issue everyone is avoiding.
The whole nine yards Everything and all the way.
The world is your oyster You can achieve whatever or go wherever you want.
There are other fish in the sea There are more suitable people, opportunities or possibilities out there.
There’s a method to his madness There is a plan behind that person’s apparently strange behavior.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch Nothing is entirely free.
Throw caution to the wind Take a risk.
Turn a blind eye Refuse to acknowledge something you know is real or wrong.
Wine and Dine When someone is treated to an expensive meal.
X marks the spot A phrase said when the speaker finds something they’ve been looking for.
You are what you eat Eat healthy and be healthy. Eat unhealthily and be unhealthy.
You can’t have your cake and eat it You can’t have everything.
Zero tolerance Nothing will be overlooked, whether it is big or small.

Less Common English Idioms and Familiar Proverbs

This list of English idioms are relatively familiar and well known by native English speakers, but they’re not used as commonly in daily conversation.

Proverbs are traditional English sayings that express a truth that is based on experience or common sense. Their use is less common compared to any expressions in the lists above.

The expressions in this list are used when the speaker is trying to prove a point or share wisdom.

Idiom Examples Definition
A doubting Thomas A skeptical person who needs physical evidence or proof.
A drop in the bucket A very small part of something big or whole.
A fool and his money are easily parted It’s easier for foolish people to lose their money.
A house divided against itself cannot stand Everyone involved must unify or else it won’t work.
A leopard can’t change his spots You cannot change who you are.
A little learning is a dangerous thing A small amount of knowledge can mislead people to making big mistakes.
A snowball’s chance in hell Absolutely no chance at all.
A stitch in time saves nine Fix the problem now before it gets worse.
A storm in a teacup A huge fuss over a small problem.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away Apples are healthy for you.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure Better to prevent a problem than solve it when it happens.
As right as rain To feel healthy or well again.
Blood is thicker than water. Family bond is closer than anything else.
Bolt from the blue Something happening without warning.
Burn bridges Destroy a relationship.
Buy a lemon To buy something which is worthless or does not work well.
Calm before the storm A quiet and peaceful period before something very bad happens.
Can’t teach an old dog new tricks It’s harder for older people to learn something new.
Cast iron stomach Someone who has no problems eating or drinking anything.
Caught (or fall) between two stools Difficulty in choosing between two alternatives.
Charley Horse Stiffness in the leg
Cloud nine Very happy. State of bliss.
Cock and bull story An unbelievable story.
Come hell or high water Any difficult situation or obstacle.
Come rain or shine Come no matter what.
Curiosity killed the cat Stop asking questions or else you’ll get into trouble.
Cut the mustard To come up to expectation and do a good job.
Dark horse One who was previously unknown but is now important.
Dead ringer A complete duplicate.
Dog days of summer The hottest days of summer season.
Don’t beat a dead horse Don’t talk about the subject anymore. It’s done.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth Don’t be ungrateful when someone gives you something.
Doozy Something outstanding or unique.
Dragging your feet Walk slowly and wearily or with difficulty.
Drastic times call for drastic measures When facing an extreme situation, it may require you to take an extreme action.
Drink like a fish To drink very heavily.
Drive (someone) up the wall To irritate or annoy very much.
Dropping like flies A large group of people dying quickly.
Dry run Rehearsal.
Eighty-six An item that is no longer available.
Elvis has left the building The show is done.
Ethnic cleansing Killing of a certain ethnic or religious group on a massive scale.
Every dog has his day Every person gets a chance at least once.
Everything but the kitchen sink Everything imaginable.
Excuse my French Please forgive me for swearing or cussing.
Familiarity breeds content The better you know someone, the less you like them.
Fit as a fiddle In very good health and shape.
Flash in the pan Something that seems to have potential at first but fails to meet expectations.
Foam at the mouth To be angry and showing it.
Fools’ gold It seems good but is actually worthless.
For the birds Something that is not worth anything.
Fortune favors the bold Courageous actions are often rewarded.
Fuddy-duddy An old-fashioned foolish type of person.
Full Monty To be completely naked.
Funny farm A mental institution.
Get down to brass tacks To become serious about something.
Get wind of (something) Hear a piece of information that someone else was trying to keep a secret.
Get your walking papers Get fired from a job.
Go down in flames Ending or failing spectacularly
Go down like a lead balloon To be received badly by an audience.
Haste makes waste Rushing can produce lots of mistakes.
Hat trick When a player scores three goals in the same sports game. Mostly used in hockey.
Have your head in the clouds Not concentrating.
He who laughs last laughs best The final winner will have the most glory.
He’s not playing with a full deck He’s mentally or intellectually stupid.
He’s off the rocker He’s totally crazy.
Hear something straight from the horse’s mouth To hear information from someone who has knowledge on the matter.
Hell in a handbasket Something headed for complete disaster.
High on the hog Living in luxury.
Hocus pocus A term used by witches when casting a spell
Hot potato A controversial issue that is awkward to deal with.
Idle hands are the devil’s tools You are more likely to get in trouble if you do nothing.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another. When one thing goes wrong, then another thing will go wrong.
In like Flynn To be easily successful, especially in romance.
In the buff To be nude.
It is a poor workman who blames his tools People who perform poorly will usually blame others or other external factors.
It is always darkest before the dawn Things are going to get better.
It takes two to tango Both parties involved are responsible for the situation.
It’s a small world When you frequently see the same people in different places.
Joshing me Tricking me.
Jump on the bandwagon Follow the trend and do what everyone is doing.
Keep body and soul together To earn enough money to survive.
Kitty-corner or Catty-corner Diagonally across.
Knock on wood Knuckle tapping on wood in order to avoid bad luck.
Know which way the wind is blowing Try to understand or discover information about a situation.
Leave no stone unturned Look everywhere.
Let sleeping dogs lie Avoid interfering with a situation.
Like riding a bicycle A skill, once learned, is never forgotten.
Like two peas in a pod They’re always together.
Liquor (someone) up To get someone drunk
Long in the tooth Old people (or horses)
Make a mountain out of a molehill Make something unimportant into a big deal.
Make hay while the sun shines Take advantage of a good situation.
Make no bones about To state a fact that has no opposition.
Mum’s the word To keep quiet and say nothing.
Nest egg Saving set aside for future use.
Never bite the hands that feed you Don’t hurt anyone that helps you.
New kid on the block Someone new to the group or area.
New York Minute A minute that goes by quickly.
No dice To not accept or not agree.
No room to swing a cat A very small space.
On pins and needles To be anxious or nervous while anticipating for something.
Once bitten, twice shy An unpleasant experience induces caution.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire Things go from bad the worse.
Pass the buck Avoid giving responsibility by giving it to someone else.
Peeping tom A pervert. Someone who observes people who are nude.
Pick up your ears To listen very carefully.
Pig in a poke Something is sold or bought without the buyer knowing its true nature or value.
Put a bug in his ear To give someone a hint or reminder.
Put a sock in it To tell someone noisy to be quiet.
Queer the pitch Destroy or ruin a plan.
Rise and shine Time to get out of bed and get ready for work or school.
Rome was not built in a day. If you want something to be complete, it will take time.
Run like the wind To run very fast.
Second wind To gain a new strength or energy (used in exercised).
See eye to eye We agree or have similar views.
Shape up or ship out Work better or leave.
Snail’s pace To move extremely slow.
Snowball effect Events have momentum that build upon each other.
Snowed under To have so much work that you have problems dealing with them all.
Southpaw Someone who is left-handed.
Stir a hornet’s nest To cause a lot of trouble.
That ship has sailed That opportunity has passed.
The bigger they are the harder they fall Bigger and stronger opponents suffer a much bigger loss.
The pot calling the kettle black A person hypocritically criticizing someone else that he is also in fault.
These are clouds on the horizon Trouble is coming.
Third times the charm After two failed attempts, the third time is usually lucky.
Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones People shouldn’t criticize others; everyone has their own fault.
Through thick and thin In good times and in bad times.
Tie the knot Get married.
Till the cows come home A long time.
Time is money Time is valuable, work fast.
Tongue-in-cheek Something not to be taken seriously.
Twenty-three skidoo To be turned away.
Up a blind alley Going down a set of actions that will lead to a bad outcome.
Use your loaf Use your brain. Think carefully.
Van Gogh’s ear for music Tone deaf.
Variety is the spice of life The more experiences you try, the more exciting life can be.
Wag the dog A distraction from something that has greater importance.
Waste not, want not Don’t waste anything you may need in the future.
Water under the bridge Anything from the past that isn’t significant or important at this moment.
Wear your heart on your sleeve Be open and free with your emotions.
Weather the storm To reach the end of a difficult situation without too much harm.
Well begun is half done Getting a good start makes the job easier.
When it rains it pours Difficult situations tend to follow each other, all arriving at the same time.
When pigs fly To say something is impossible.
Wild and woolly Uncultured. Without laws.
Wolf in sheep’s clothing A person who pretends to be nice but is not.
You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar You can make more friends by being nice than being rude.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink You can give someone an opportunity, but you can’t force them to take it.
You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs It is impossible to achieve something important without a negative effect.

Bottom Line

The best way to improve teaching or learning English is to understand how English idioms are used in everyday conversation. It is also a good idea to know what they mean and how they’re used.

You’ll want to check out our other resources. Want to know some good English Conversation Questions to ask your students or friends? Need to brush up on your English Grammar? You’ll want to check out the following on our resources page.

Teach English abroad or get all the best ESL content by visiting ESL Workshop.